Why CRM ain’t CRM if it isn’t Social


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Almost a year back, I wrote about how four independent trends, namely Social Media, Smart Phones/Portable Devices, Cloud Computing/SaaS and Predictive Analytics were converging and brining about a Paradigm Shift in CRM (for more, see my post titled CRM Paradigm Shift).

Between then and now, we have seen a lot happen due to this convergence. Customers empowered by Social Media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have started connecting and sharing like never before right from their mobile devices and are asserting their influence, be it for venting their feeling towards a brand or their anger and frustration at their rulers. This has even led to downfall of many a dictatorial regimes, in power for decades, in just a matter of days – something unthinkable even a few months ago. The biggest lesson business can learn from recent events is that Social Media is the new front end of CRM system and CRM ain’t CRM if it isn’t Social. Here’s why:

Social Media has empowered customers like never before as they can discuss about brands/products on Social Media channels and companies have no control over what customers are saying about their brands/products. This discussion is visible to all including other customers, potential customers and competitors.

The best any marketer can do is to Listen and Learn from what customers are saying and Engage them in meaningful conversations. In other words, treat Social Media channels as the front-end of CRM system, capture all relevant information from Social Media channels in the database and use Predictive Analytics and Knowledge Management tools to derive insights and help in decision making.

What is important to note here is that “Social” is not a middle-ware or another layer in the architecture of CRM systems, but is the front-end of CRM system, where customers decide the format and content of information. It is responsibility of the company to record and store all relevant information from Social Media channels and derive value from it by using Predictive Analytics and Knowledge Management tools for effectively engaging customers.

Companies must also leverage unique characteristics of Social Networks and re-engineer their CRM business processes to derive full benefits from it, rather than trying to fit “Social” engine to their existing CRM carriage or merely treating Social Media as another 1-1 channel like phone and email, albeit public!

This requires fresh outside the box thinking. For example, instead of trying to respond to each and every tweet or Facebook posting by customers, something not practical for a medium or large business, the emphasis should be on creating advocacy and building trust among customers, keeping in mind the “Social Context” of the medium.

No where this is more evident than in support communities, where brand advocates/loyal customers help other customers out by answering their questions or suggesting solution, rather than company Reps trying to answer all the question. As a part of their CRM initiative, marketing managers should design programs to track and reward Customer Advocacy behaviors on Social Networking sites. This will not only help in brand promotion on Social Media channels but will also help in building trust and loyalty among target audience.

As you can see from my explanation, CRM ain’t CRM if it is not Social, thanks to ‘Social’ Customers!

What do you think? Would love to hear from you. Please do share your thoughts on the subject:

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  5. Social CRM and Customer Advocacy Programs: Case Study In my previous post titled Loyalty Programs are Passé, how about Customer Advocacy Program?, I highlighted the importance of tracking outbound Word Of Mouth (WOM)…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.
Dr. Harish Kotadia has more than twelve years' work experience as a hands-on CRM Program and Project Manager implementing CRM and Analytics solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US. He also has about five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations. Dr. Harish currently lives in Dallas, Texas, USA and works as a Practice Leader, Data Analytics and Big Data at a US based Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.


  1. You’re absolutely right: customers will talk about brands whether they listen or not. As you point out, there is significant value to “listening” and “learning” to prospects’ and customers’ “social” commentary. “Engaging” these folks, however, can more difficult if vendors don’t start within the customer’s context (which is likely to be expressed via social media), vs. pushing a product. There are so many more touch points for buyers today—most of which sales reps/vendors don’t initiate. That’s why it’s so important to get out ahead of things—to put “social” on the front end of CRM.

    Your post also reminds me of what Gerhard Gschwandtner said in his Sales 2.0 Conference keynote this morning. His prediction: of the 18 million salespeople who exist today, only 3 million will be needed in 2020, and these will be “digital podiatrists”–experts at finding prospects’ digital footprint and then pinpointing their interests, pain points, etc., with which to hone a value proposition and pave the way to becoming a valued advisor.

    Note: The views expressed in this posting are my own; they do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Hoover’s.


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